I am getting tired of playing scrabble on my ipad.
The frustration of losing against the imaginary opponent reflects on my patience. I look at my watch again. Sigh! The seats are hard, too hard to be seated for long stretch of time, especially if the flights are delayed. I want to wander a bit but I am afraid of losing my seat. It is at a very convenient junction, closest to café kiosk, with unlimited flow of coffee and croissants. I look up at the indicator above. The screen scrolls every second showing the latest flight status. Word ‘Delayed’ blinks against my flight, 747 Emirates, from Zurich to Barcelona. I grit my teeth and take a deep breath. People around me are quite relaxed, some walking at a lazy pace, gently wheeling their hand luggage. Children running a short distance, back and forth. Women with duty-free shopping bags. The gentleman on my right, at the next table, has his nose buried inside the pages of a book. I tilt my head a little to read the title of his book. Whenever I see people reading, I have this peculiar habit of peeping into the books, sometimes crinkling my eyes to read the finer print, not that it will upgrade my general knowledge, but just, I am curious. This habit does get me in trouble sometimes. Like once, a senior woman caught me reading aloud the phrase from her book ‘sex-the erotic pleasures’ and she gave me that ‘why-don’t-you-mind-your-own-business’ look. I had quickly diverted my attention to a man sitting next to her, smiled a bit and escaped the brawl just in time.
“Excuse me, is this seat taken? May I share your table please?”
Do I have a choice when he does not wait for my reply and plops down on a chair opposite me even before he could complete his sentence? Most of the tables are occupied; there is one more vacant chair at the far end, next to the one occupied by a dark man with curly hair.
He would be more comfortable there because he seemed to be of same age as the man across, with a similar evidence of mileage and experience only more grey and with a wider receding hairline.
I wish I had letter ‘S’, I could have formed seven-letter word ‘strange’ on my scrabble board with an attractive Bingo. I am still struggling with letters on my rack.
“What do you do when you are not doing this?” he says breaking the rhythm of continuous announcements of incoming and outgoing flights.
I hate making conversations with strangers. Of what use are these chats if you are never going to see them again? What do I care about how he spends his free time, reading or on his Facebook? I am not interested in the number of followers he has on twitter, his interests, his likes, his dislikes, or of the various reasons he doesn’t dye his hair to a darker shade to look a bit younger.
“Final year in a catering college” I say with just a momentary glance at his tie, so narrow that it could easily be passed off as shoelaces.
I use up six of my letters placing the word ‘granted’ next to the letter ‘D’ giving me the total score of twenty points.
“You don’t talk much, do you?”
I am tempted to advise him to learn to be silent; this art could make him Prime Minister of India one day. Or maybe I should tell him that I have this personality disorder like a crab, I go and hide inside my shell or else I could become violent beyond control.
“Sorry, I am busy playing scrabble.” I say, trying to concentrate on my next word.
Bingo! I finally get to make seven-letter word, ‘provoke’
“Lovely hair you have, like a chocolate river flowing from your nape over your breast into your cleavage.”
I look up from a corner of my eye. His coffee and sandwich lay untouched on the table in front of him.
What was the type of sandwich that Elvis was eating when he died? People had started rumors that he was eating a peanut butter-jelly sandwich with bananas because he loved them so much.
Triple word score with total of thirty-nine points when closely nestled next to word ARE is the word ‘murder’
“Are you a poet?” I ask.
He starts to laugh. That completely fake laugh that sounds like a bad actor in Bollywood films, like that of Amrish Puri who blabbers ‘Mogambo khush hua’ between his stream of laughter
“What makes you think I am a poet?” he grins.
I place my word ‘rascal’ on a double word score, under the word ‘Provoke’ making it plural with my letter ‘S’ bringing up my score by thirty-four points.
“I am not sure why women get so worked up when we mention their body parts. Is it not true that women spend many hours in the saloon varnishing their arms and underarms, manicure, pedicure? Women spend too much time waxing their long pretty legs till they shine like bottle, smooth and silky. You do that to get noticed by men, don’t you?” he said with a smirk of mischief.
I would love to have a long discussion on liberties one can have in expressing their views, the etiquettes in sharing thoughts, time, place, moment, but the differences in our age forced me to be more polite.
“It’s too personal no? You don’t even know me.” I said with a stern face making an eye contact.
“There you are! I have looked for you everywhere, have you switched off your mobile?”
I am distracted by a shrill voice of a good-looking brunette, broad forehead, and high cheekbones, an eastern European. A little fleshy from drinks and insufficient exercise but quite loud. After a quick glance at me, as if by accident, she focused her red, accusing eyes on this man sitting across me.
“Is it so difficult for you to wait outside the powder room for an extra minute while I pee?”
He continues to chew on his sandwich, unmindful of the commotion, extra cheese staining his upper lip and few crumbs falling off on his shirt.
“Now, will you hurry up? Hear the announcement and look at the sign flashing ‘boarding’ next to our flight. Come on, let’s go before the gates close on us.”
He leaves his unfinished sandwich, quickly gulps his coffee, winks at me and follows his woman.
I hit upon another Bingo; his rowdy slapstick lot remains knitted to my sensibilities, although no harm is done.